Movie Chief: Pre-Release Piracy Makes No Impact on Box Office

The last time a workprint copy of a high profile movie hit the web, a BitTorrent site got shutdown by the FBI and several people went to jail. A US citizen caught seeding a pre-release movie faces 5 years in jail but according to the President of movie company Lions Gate, a jail sentence must be inappropriate. What level of devastating financial impact will be felt at the box office due to Hostel: Part 2 piracy? "Nothing meaningful" he says.

When workprint copies of Lions Gate’s violent horror sequel ‘Hostel: Part II’ started showing up on BitTorrent networks, I commented glibly to my colleague that it would be a ‘real horror’ if a US citizen got caught being involved with the initial seeding of it. After the EliteTorrents/Star Wars Episode III drama and the subsequent jailing of several people including Scott McCausland, Grant Stanley, Sam Kuonen and Scott D. Harvanek, a high profile pre-release such as Hostel: Part 2 is great propaganda material for the likes of the MPAA when they catch the culprit.

Movie companies and the MPAA tell us of their $18bn per annum lost revenue due to piracy and use this to pressure government to bring in more and more restrictive laws and then use them to get people jailed for getting involved in pre-release movies.

So when Lions Gate President Tom Ortenberg spoke about the pre-release of his latest money spinner, one could be forgiven for expecting a speech about millions in lost revenue and how pirates ought to be sent to the electric chair after stealing food from his starving child’s mouth. Amazingly, not so.

He said the movie was ‘in a rough, unfinished form’ (normal for a workprint copy), something with which amateur reviewers of the leaked version of the movie generally agreed.

But what about the millions of dollars of revenue, lost to piracy?

“It’s distressing and disappointing” said Ortenberg “but it will have no meaningful impact on the box office”.

No Meaningful Impact

…yet in the US, you can get 5 years in jail for it. Ask sk0t how he feels about that.

Let’s hope Tom Ortenberg’s words are admissible in evidence, should the FBI decide that 6 more people need to go to jail for costing the movie industry no money.

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